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(LEAD) S. Korean nuclear negotiator to hold talks with IAEA delegate on N. Korea

All Headlines 20:56 June 19, 2007

(ATTN: UPDATES with foreign news report on BDA fund in last 2 paras
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- An official of the international nuclear watchdog will visit here Thursday on his way to North Korea to discuss the North's shutdown of its nuclear facilities under a February multilateral nuclear deal, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Monday announced that its delegates would arrive in Pyongyang next week, but did not specify the reasons for their delayed arrival.

The IAEA's announcement follows the decision by North Korea Saturday to invite a working-level delegation of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog to "discuss the procedures of the IAEA's verification and monitoring of the suspension of the operations of nuclear facilities" at Yongbyon.

Kaluba Chitumbo, head of the IAEA's safeguards operations division for the Asia-Pacific region, will meet Friday with Lim Sung-nam, deputy chief of South Korea's delegation to the six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization, to discuss the North's denuclearization process, the official said.

While here for three days, the IAEA official will also discuss South Korea's own nuclear safety measures.

"Following his trip here, Chitumbo will join other IAEA delegates who are scheduled to visit North Korea next week," the official added.

The shutdown of the Yongbyon complex and the invitation of IAEA inspectors are part of an agreement reached in February, in which the communist nation promised to disable the nuclear facilities in exchange for 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid and political benefits.

The South Korean nuclear negotiator, the official said, "is expected to ask the IAEA (official) to negotiate with North Korea in a way that would ensure that the process of shutting down its nuclear facilities can be completed at the earliest date possible."

"The core of our request will be that the process pick up pace to make up for the time we have lost," the official said.

An unidentified North Korean source in Beijing said Monday that the shutdown of the Yongbyon complex would take about a month.

Under the February agreement, also signed by South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, North Korea was supposed to shut down the Yongbyon facilities and have the closure verified by IAEA inspectors before April 14.

Pyongyang missed the deadline, delaying the implementation of the February agreement because of a dispute over some of its funds frozen in a Macau bank under U.S. pressure.

In a related development, the chief U.S. envoy to the North Korean nuclear talks was reported in foreign news reports to have said Tuesday that the communist regime had already received millions of dollars of the disputed funds from Banco Delta Asia.

Christopher Hill told reporters on his arrival in Tokyo from his two-day visit to Seoul, "My understanding is that today (Tuesday), it (the fund) was deposited in North Korean accounts in Russia," according to the Associated Press.

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